I have so many things to say in this letter and so much on my mind that this may be poorly written or out of order. I apologize for this in advance…
I’m sending this letter by e-mail to everyone who I love and care about (and whose e-mail addresses I actually have). If you have been following my blog or have had a meaningful conversation with me over the last year then you know about my urge to leave to Buenos Aires, Argentina. This letter is to notify you that on Friday January 23, 2010 I will be leaving. Despite urgings from nearly everyone who I’ve spoken too, this is a necessary step in my maturation process as a man as well as my own personal quest for happiness.
The following is a description of why this is so important to me and my reasoning for taking such an abstract leap.
To my mother:
I can’t express how much you have helped me and I am eternally grateful. I know that when I’m in Argentina sitting in an internet café unable to communicate with anyone around me, I will look back unable to withhold a smile from my face, on all of the times we have argued. Not because these are the great times I remember with you, of which there are many, but because even in the moments that we completely butt heads and cannot see eye to eye, I still have so much love and admiration for who you are. While our mindsets are completely different, mostly because of our vastly different upbringings, the truth is that what defines happiness for one person is completely different than another. While I will maintain my stubborn mindset until the day I die, there is no question that you are an excellent role model teaching me the importance of hard work and selflessness. My biggest hope is that you can understand that I do not think I am more intelligent than you and my way of thinking is right, although you have expressed that this is sometimes how I make you feel. The truth is that I know in my heart and mind that I could never be capable of doing what you do in a day and I know that I have to find an alternate route to success. I am so proud of what you have done and continue to do with your businesses and can feel why the customers’ happiness supplies you with such a feeling of purpose and satisfaction. I cannot help but see this as I help you with deliveries or sit open houses, you truly care about people and it is a rare art form you have mastered. I may pretend to know everything, but I will forever be in debt for the valuable lessons you have taught me (and maybe because of the 1 bedroom at the Nautica too :). I love you very much and will miss you everyday I am gone.
To my father
While we have differing outlooks on so many things, I can’t help but thank you for giving me an opposing outlook to my views. So many times in my life I have been so passionate about what I was doing that I have thrown caution to the wind, as well as your advice, only to wind up regretful in the end. Patience is the biggest attribute I hope to apply in my life from your teachings. In fact I’m sure you will urge me to save longer and prepare more for this journey and I don’t blame you for doing so. You know me quite well and there is no reason to think that this adventure will be different from past ideas or ventures I have drawn up. However this is so much deeper of a calling that I truly have never felt in my existence. While other pursuits in the past have been based on money, greed and other false pursuits of artificial happiness, I can feel such a strong difference in this calling.
Over the past few years you have become an avid reader and turned me on to some great teachings that I continually try (many times unsuccessfully) to apply to my life. I know that while unspoken many times because of our introverted nature, we both naturally look inward and upward in our search for happiness and meaning. This is something that has changed me in many ways although you may not always see it. My ongoing search for purpose and desire to do something productive and good in my life has changed more in the last year than anything in my life. The biggest misconception that anyone can make about the journey I am about to take is that I am looking for a free ride in a beautiful city.
This is not even close to what I am after. I want to learn a culture, a language and educate myself through breaking down all limiting beliefs and doing so much more than I am doing now. I will touch on this point again later and explain what brought me to this point in my “awakening” or “enlightenment”. However you phrase it I want to make clear that this isn’t a brash feeling from someone who is lost. I can honestly say that I have never been of a more clear state of mind than as of today, thus why I have chosen to write this now.
More than anything I guess I just want your support going forward. Not financially but emotionally. I am at a point in my life with no real ties and no thriving career options. I may never again have such an opportunity to take a leap of faith and passion without there being much more to lose. If there ever was a time it is surely now. I love you very much and will miss our weekly dinners and intriguing conversations.
To my brother
You have always been there for me, having my back growing up and letting me play with you older friends, helping me fit in at school. I think I used this as a crutch many times and put up walls socially to kids my own age, knowing I could always hang with the cool older kids. Maybe this is why I am now so curious to know and meet others different from myself now that we are older and independent. Our lives have been far from what we have dreamed as kids so far I know, but I can assure you that great times await. You have taught me so much about being a leader. While you and I both have our own shit to deal with and our lives may suck sometimes, you never fail in making new friends and having many people who deeply care about you. My hope is that while times can be so tough and support is not always readily available, we can funnel our disappointments and anger into positive energy that builds new bridges and opens new doors for us. I will miss all the fun times we spend together and hope I can get you down there with me, you need a vacation!
To everyone else in the world...
Today I went to Barnes and Noble in Lynnwood to check out a few books recommended to me. It seems to me that the only way to escape my current reality is through reading and getting swept away in a story. The two books I read were “Leaving Microsoft to Change the World” and “The Alchemist”. I was literally moved nearly to tears by John Wood’s story of quitting Microsoft to start his own non-profit in bringing literacy to kids previously unable to attain any kind of meaningful education. I think the reason the book made such a profound impression on me is because I feel such a calling to do more each and everyday. This may sound like a cop out from hard work, I understand this. To be honest hard work does not bother me at all when the subject is something I truly care about. I cannot perform to my best abilities unless I feel a sense of purpose in what I am doing. This is to the point where when I am working hard on something I don’t like I get physically sick. I know the “yea it’d be great if we could all love what we do, but the world doesn’t work like that” mindset and that is fine. However I am wired differently and need to accept that my own happiness cannot be found without a meaningful pursuit, thus my journey…
I have never in my life researched a city so thoroughly, dreamt of its sites its streets so vividly. Is it wrong that I frown and my thoughts wander when I think of the rain, the short days and the long winters of Seattle? Or is it just that maybe a warm spring morning (meaning 11 AM in Buenos Aires), a cup of Yerba Mate and a bustling city conjure up a more attractive picture? Sure the grass is always greener, but maybe the neighbors’ yard is more what I’m after. If it makes me smile and my own makes me frown, then I think I’ll make some new friends.
Whether it be a Passion, calling or Pursuit of happiness, this is not important. These are just words attempting to describe a feeling inside me that is indescribable. I have lost so many things in the last year that seemed so important at the time and though it has been tough, these losses do not compare with what I have gained. The enlightened state of mind I am feeling at this point is something that I have never felt and an omen that maybe it is time to take a chance.
I guess I just don’t understand society in America these days. A culture based on competition, acquisition and blind to the idea of having a purpose (with exceptions). It is quite an oddity that a country seemingly providing so much opportunity has provided its citizens with such a lack of vision. For example “Anna Lee Saxenian, now dean of the School of Information at UC-Berkeley, estimated immigrants founded about 25 percent of Silicon Valleytech companies in 1999. The Duke study found the percentage had more than doubled, to 52 percent in 2005.”ⁿ’. To say the least, yes this country has tremendous opportunity; however our culture and educational systems encourage us to go to school and get a job, pay your bills, and maybe leave your kids something extra when you die. While this mindsets runs our thoughts and creates limiting belief systems, foreigners see the vast opportunities and come in with nothing to lose, able to seize the opportunities that so many American citizens don't have the courage to. I’m looking forward to a place where vision can be encouraged and capitalized on as it is something I possess in abundance.
My vision is not one of a hammock and suntan lotion. It is of throwing myself head first into the unknown and pursuing knowledge. I will gain so much from this voyage seeing things unknown to me and living completely independently that I will have no choice but to push harder than ever to succeed. I understand that my time is now and will make no excuses for any shortcomings. I cannot think of a more valuable experience that I could partake in. I know that the only thing I am learning now as I pour beer for Microsoft employees is that I need a change.
A quote I read and loved today was, “There is nothing with which every man is so afraid as getting to know how enormously much he is capable of doing and becoming.”. I know that I am capable of so much more and it is time that I seize my destiny. I know there is a reason I go to educate myself and learn everything I can about what I am trying to do and it is because I feel I higher sense of purpose by leaving and finding what lie ahead. I see myself doing so many great things and helping so many people in Argentina. I have to help myself first and get on my feet, but I know that I can do so many productive things there and there is a reason behind what I am feeling.
It seems like we are all so programmed from an early age to follow what society deems correct and I think this is a fundamental error in the current system. Mark Twain said it well, “Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect”. Just because something is agreed on by the majority of people doesn’t mean it is correct. Look at what happened in Germany, or even the US (Bush did get re-elected) for that matter. The last 5 years have been a race too see how fast I could make money and buy things I thought would make me happy and feel successful. I found neither feeling.
"Chase the vision, not the money" Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos.com.
I’m going to chase mine and win or lose, I will know I at least played the game and got off the sidelines. I will find my way in the end and I know you all will not agree with my decision to go. But you can see what it means to me and know that it is something I must do. My hope is that you will follow me in my journey on LivingBueno.com. I will be documenting my entire trip and please leave encouraging comments if you have a minute, it will make me feel less homesick. I apologize for the length, the flow and the over the top enthusiasm of this letter. There is so much I had to say and I can’t help my excitement. I’ll leave you with this quote, I feel the message more clearly relates my feelings than any of the mutterings above…
"Tell your heart that the fear of suffering is worse than the suffering itself," the alchemist replies. "And that no heart has ever suffered when it goes in search of its dreams, because every second of the search is a second's encounter with God and with eternity." from The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho